Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Navigating
Shopify

Erin Fasano is the Managing Editor of the Startup CPG Spotlight. She is also a brand marketer and Co-Founder of Starryside Co.

THE DTC Platform

There are lots of platforms available for direct-to-consumer websites, but in CPG, Shopify is the solution unilaterally preferred. It is a fully maintained code-base (whatever that means!) so there is a team of developers standing behind the code to ensure your cart and checkout functionality will not break. As someone who does not speak digital, I talked to a bunch of pros to gather their advice and share it with other folks like me who may not be sure where to start.

Should I build the site myself or hire someone to help me?

It really depends on your skill, your budget, and how much customization is needed for the site. If you need a high level of customization or don’t have a lot of dev skills and budget to do it on your own, hiring help is a great way to start, but can be overwhelming. There are two basic options:

  1. An agency: A full service solution to your Shopify dev needs can come from an agency, especially if you find one that specializes in both branding and Shopify dev. Rachel Barge, of growth marketing firm Leap Grow, points out that it is important that the agency does more than just “making your brand assets come to life” but actually “hold the user’s hand all the way through checkout.” Agencies can be expensive, but you will get a fully functioning website in the end – just be sure you understand any potential ongoing maintenance charges. Be sure you check current clients for references before signing up with an agency or getting locked into a contract. An agency will hold your hand a little more, and is the best solution for someone with little to no experience.
  2. A freelancer: Since Shopify is such a ubiquitous platform, any DTC ecomm developer should be able to support your needs, unless they’re highly complex or custom. When deciding to engage with a freelancer, have them layout a roadmap for the steps that your project will take, and walk you through an existing project. Hamid Saify, VP of Marketing for Liquid Death Mountain Water, points out that any ecommerce dev should be able to implement a basic Shopify site within 6 weeks, including: Homepage, Category Pages, Product, Checkout, and basic Integrations (like email). If you have managed a website buildout before and have access to a designer who can help build out assets, a freelancer or solo developer would be a great solution for you.

In either situation, Tory Pratt, founder of Pratt Cocktail Co, recommends that you look for a partner who will explain things in layman’s terms (I certainly need this!!), and one who understands your business a little bit. She also suggested that searching for a more specialized resource, vs a big agency who says they can do it all. A specialized partner will help you arrive at a quicker, better end-product, because they’ll have experience in building the kind of site you are looking for.

What are the best apps to add?
  1. For Subscriptions: If you are going to use a subscription service on your website, which will help you maintain regular revenue, Barge recommends Recharge, saying, it is “the best out of the box solution.” Saify, echoes this recommendation because it “works with all the tools that you need to build with, creating a seamless backend experience.”
  2. For Email Management: Both Barge and Saify recommend Klayvio because it too connects easily with other add on services. Barge adds that founders should ensure they “have a popup firing upon landing to the website to ensure you’re capturing the email of traffic when they land” on your site.
  3. For Rewards: Saify recommends that founders build out an easy rewards platform as early as possible so customers can start earning points as early as possible. Smile and Loyalty Lion are great options for founders to consider.

Pratt recommends that for any founder, leverage the free trial for these apps and plug-ins, to ensure they are going to fit your needs.

Other Tips:
  1. Make sure Google Analytics and Facebook pixels are firing from day 1, so you can build ad audiences off of these populations.
  2. Learning Resources: There are tons of great resources available, and both Saify and Pratt recommend getting to know the learning library available through Shopify.
  3. Get your funnel locked in and converting before you start spending money on advertising to drive users to your site, so you can feel confident that your investment will convert well.
  4. Don’t invest too heavily in an outside agency until you’re confident in your product market fit! Get a site that is 70% of what you need while you are still learning. Then make investments once you have more data to support your launch.

Have tips of your own? Share them in the comments!

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